Managing dental anxiety


A new study from the UK has found that one in five women are terrified of going to the Dentists – a British newspaper reports 20 per cent of women amongst the eleven and a half thousand people surveyed by the NHS Information Centre suffer from a condition known as ‘extreme dental anxiety’, which leaves some so scared they need to be sedated by a sleep dentist before the check-up. Some find themselves feeling exceedingly anxious for days in the run up to their appointment. As much as this is a good short term solution for anxiety, it’s better to also try and discover the root cause of your fear, and try to overcome it.

Almost double the number of men – ten per cent – admit suffering from this phobia. But dentists say that in reality men are probably just as scared as women, they just don’t admit it. The figures, published today, show that 39 per cent of men feel nervous the day before an appointment while 42 per cent are scared in the waiting room.

Dentists say patients’ phobia is ‘irrational’. Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Dental Health Foundation charity, said: ‘This comes as no surprise to dentists and in fact many probably think the figures are far higher.

A new book, due to be published in January but available on pre-order from the Bite bookstore, tackles the issue in a way that’s accessible to the entire dental team.

The Fearful Dental Patient: A Guide to Understanding and Managing helps dental professionals understand the basics of fear, anxiety and phobias and the role these emotions play in creating negative behavior within the dental environment.

The text contains a variety of modalities that help identify dental fear and phobia, as well as chair-side techniques and practical advice aimed at improving patient cooperation and ensuring treatment compliance.

Chapter topics include the basic origins of patient fear and anxiety, how to identify dental anxiety and varied approaches to managing fearful patients of any age. Approaches discussed employ behavioural, pharmacological, sedation and even hypnotic techniques, specifying combinations where required.

Chapters also include coverage of a wide range of patients, including those with psychiatric comorbidities and special healthcare needs.

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